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Homeland Security

France Lifts Britain Travel Ban

By VOA News December 23, 2020

France began allowing people to enter the country from Britain again Wednesday after several days in which it and other European nations imposed travel bans to contain a COVID-19 variant spreading in Britain.

Those arriving in France must have a negative COVID test that is less than 72 hours old.

The ban not only halted the flow of people across the border, but also caused massive disruptions to shipping between the two countries and sparked fears of shortages of food and other goods.

Britain, France and the European Union reached an agreement late Tuesday to clear the way for the ban to be lifted.

The European Commission had recommended earlier in the day that countries end their bans that began Sunday, while also discouraging nonessential travel to and from Britain at this time.

British authorities discovered the new strain last week and have been working closely with the World Health Organization. Preliminary indications are that the virus spreads more quickly than earlier strains, but WHO officials said at a news conference on Monday there is zero evidence the strain is more severe or deadly.

The officials said viruses develop new strains all the time, and the best way to prevent that from happening is to keep it from spreading.

EU officials say the variant has been detected in a few cases in Belgium, Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands.

The head of Germany's Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Disease Control said Tuesday that given those facts, it is likely the strain has spread to Germany, as well.

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